This is Michael Maloney
By Jennifer Ersalesi
For fourteen years, Michael Maloney and his family have called Rutherford their home. As an artist, Michael not only uses his artistic talent in his workplace but also as an author/ illustrator and as a way to give back to his community. This is Rutherford spoke with Michael about his most recent publication, his career, hobbies, and his life in Rutherford.
TIR: What do you like about living here?
Michael Maloney: I love the combination of community and convenience. Rutherford is unique in that it is an amazing small-town community in the suburbs combined with the convenience and accessibility to the greatest city in the world less than 10 miles away.
TIR: What is your current career and position?
MM: I’m currently a Creative Director; consulting, illustrating, and designing advertising for clients.
TIR: You recently wrote and illustrated a book -Silverback and Son. What inspired you to write this book?
MM: I’ve actually always wanted to write but as an artist, my first instinct was always to draw my stories. I have a 12-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son and I’ve always enjoyed the conversations around the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?” The variety, the reasons why, the agile 180º changes, one day they want to be a doctor because of something they’ve seen or read and the next day they want to be a teacher or an astronaut. Over the years my son, Roman in particular has changed his mind so many times I’ve lost track and it’s always fun talking with him about it so I started keeping a list. After being asked to illustrate Sienna’s Rainbow by my cousin Allison and seeing the success it had it gave me the confidence to start writing my own stories. The first thing that came to mind was the conversations I’ve had with my kids and how I could share that humor through storytelling. I really enjoyed bringing the gorillas to life and my son and I had even more conversations about career opportunities as I was drawing and writing the book, the addition of “Cowboy" actually came from him just days before I was set to release the files and I knew I had to add it in. As we’re all big fans of Indiana Jones in this house it’s no coincidence that the cowboy persona has a resemblance to Indy in the book!
For more information about the book, check out the website here.
TIR: Who will enjoy reading Silverback and Son?
MM: Silverback and Son is a picture book so it’s written for everyone from very young children up to about 3rd-grade level but parents will love reading it with their kids and we’ve been hearing that even very young toddlers are requesting it. I have lots of “Easter eggs” throughout the book, one of my favorites is the 3 on Bubbz the gorilla’s helmet. I was on the Rutherford Fire Department, on Engine 3 for many years. Another is the police badge number he wears, my father was with the NYPD and his badge number was 2997.
TIR: You also illustrated a book- Sienna’s Rainbow. Why did you want to be part of that project?
MM: Yes, Sienna’s Rainbow is a very special story that my cousin Allison Kane had dreamt up years ago, she wanted a way to teach children about diversity and inclusion and came up with the idea of using crayons as characters. When she had her daughter Sienna she decided to actually make the project happen and I was immediately hooked on the idea. I had a lot of fun creating the characters and the world in which they live. It’s more important than ever to teach our kids about diversity and respect for one another.
TIR: Where can people purchase both books?
MM: Silverback and Son is available as a paperback and eBook on Amazon and it’s now available as a hardcover on Barnes and Noble’s website as well. Sienna’s Rainbow is available as a paperback and we donate a portion of all sales to the Noonan’s Foundation.
TIR: Recently, you designed Bulldog Strong magnets. Why did you decide to create these magnets?
MM: Actually I was approached, because of the book, to design something to go on the students' Chromebook Covers here in Rutherford. That’s the first place the design is going to appear and they’re being sold by the PTA right now. I decided to take that same design and make car magnets because I know I’m proud to live in Rutherford and want to display one on my car. I figure I'm probably not alone. I’m considering having some stickers made up and made available as well.
TIR: How can people purchase them?
MM: They can be purchased through my Etsy store. Click here for the link.
TIR: As an avid Star Wars fan, you have made some pretty awesome Star Wars droids, such as R2-D2. You and your family do some very special events with the droids. Can you tell us more about that?
MM: Ha! Yes, we’re members of the Droidbuilders Club and both the Rebel Legion and the 501st Legion which are two of the largest charity costuming organizations in the world. We do a lot of events with R2-D2 and/or in screen accurate costumes. We visit cancer patients and children’s hospitals, attend the Special Olympics, as well as some other lighter, fun events to just bring smiles to kids’ faces. I often have to wear a helmet or hide my face because I’m holding back tears in some cases, it can get very emotional. It took me a little shy of a year to build R2 and he still needs a lot of work and maintenance because everything is custom made so it can be a time-consuming hobby. The joy on kids’ faces when they see him though is worth every minute of the late nights in the basement! My daughter Chayse especially appreciates the volunteering aspect and already understands how important community service and charity work is. We built her a full Sabine Wren Costume a few years back but now she loves costuming as Princess Leia and she’s usually the first one swarmed by the kids when we go out.
TIR: What else are you involved in here in Rutherford?
MM: I was a volunteer firefighter for almost 5 years and still volunteer to help out at different community events. I recently joined the Rutherford Arts Council and I’m looking forward to contributing there. My wife Lynn is a long time member of the Junior Woman’s Club of Rutherford and I’ll often help out at events like Snack with Santa in December. Our kids play lots of sports so we’re always at the gym for a basketball game or the field for a Softball game, and last year I helped coach Soccer.
TIR: Do you think you will be publishing more books in the future?
MM: I’d absolutely love to. I already have a few rough ideas but I’ll likely be going back to ideas inspired by conversations with my kids!